Screwups, F***ups and Morons
Bill Long 5/4/05
A Humble Proposal for a New Reality TV Show
You don't have to be very alert these days to know that reality TV shows are perched atop the television ratings. To be sure, every reality TV show doesn't become a hit (I could imagine, for example, that the one which had young couples living in small quarters for a year and then gradually "losing it" as they were tormented by the diminutive surroundings will only have a scant following), but some do and will. It seems like a key to success is to show publicity-hungry people either in embarrassing or problematic situations that lead to some triumph but mostly obliquy and humiliation. I have a proposal that will contribute to the genre in a major way, I think.
The idea would be to capitalize on people's mistakes in life. We all make a ton of them, and we have all made some pretty significant miscalculations/errors in our life's course. Lots of people spend a lot of time trying to hide the reality of their vulnerability and sheer stupidity from others, but I would venture to say that those in high as well as humble places have done lots of things for which they would be totally embarrassed if brought to light.
So, the purpose of the show is to highlight human mistakes. But, important to the concept are the three words: screwups, f***ups and morons. There is an important distinction among the terms that is crucial to the show. A "screwup" is a person who has done something REALLY dumb, a "f***up" is someone who has done something REALLY, REALLY dumb, but a "moron" is someone who has done such dumb things on a repeated basis so that it becomes not just a mere dumb act but a feature of the person's character. Aristotle refers to the distinction between an act and a nature or habit. That is what I am trying to get at in the distinction among these terms.
The show would present three interviews. I would interview the three people. I would be host because of my compassion for and understanding of what it means to be a screwup, f***up and/or moron. Each person would appear and then tell me his or her story. Of course, I would have to have a large staff combing through applications to be on the program as well as news stories about people who have done truly dumb things. I would have to take some time to determine if I should be mostly a rather passive interviewer ("what happened next?") or a more interventionist interviewer ("what is it about X event that showed you as a real screwup, in your judgment?"), but we could solve that one. Of importance to make the concept work is the idea that the person has to "fess up" that it was his/her stupidity that led to the problem. I don't want to interview people to whom bad things have happened and there is no blame involved. I also am not interested in dealing with people of hyper-sensitive conscience who believe that a major screwup in life is when they forgot to take out the garbage one Wednesday evening and there were ants crawling all over the kitchen Thursday morning. No, I am talking about major screwups. If you don't know what I am referring to, you don't have many friends.
After each of the three people told his/her story about a massive screwup that he/she had caused, we would take a break for a few minutes. The purpose of the break was so that the TV audience could call or email in their votes on which of the three was the screwup, which the f***up and which the moron. The results would instantly be tabulated, and we would come up with our winners for the night.
Announcing the "Winners"
I would then gather the contestants/interviewees together, with a word or two summarizing what their blunder was (for those who had tuned in late), and then announce the winner of the screwup award. Then we would play music to build some tension before I announced the f***up and moron in the same sentence. I think I would make my announcement with the following language. Instead of "You're fired!" or something rather innocuous like that, I would look at the moron and say, with seething anger, "America has voted you a moron. It is likely that this is a permanent condition that you face. Get out of my sight, you moron!"
I don't know yet what the "prize" would be for the screwup and f***up, but the moron would immediately be seized by the security guards, taken over to a door leading out of the studio, and thrown unceremoniously onto the street. Then, with the camera focused on the prone disheveled moron, I would have my Westie, Molly, who usually greets everyone with deferential licks, stand over the moron and bark incessantly at him/her. Then, I would walk out of the studio, stride over to the moron, kick him/her once or twice, and climb into a waiting cab. My words to the cabbie, which would be heard by the studio audience, would be "My anger management class, right away!" Thus, unlike other Reality TV shows, this one would show the vulnerability and potential screwup nature of the host of the show, too.
I wonder who we would get for contestants. I am sure that there would be many that would volunteer for this honor, but most of those in positions of public visibility or positions of professional or societal trust, would probabably not participate. But, they no doubt have some of the most compelling stories. Their screwups might be more intricate and more convoluted, but they would no doubt have many thing to say.
How would we get them involved? I think we might have to have a special round of "Screwups, F***ups, and Morons" that is called "Celebrity SF and M," in which all who occupy positions of trust in our society could participate. However, they would wear masks and might have "voice-overs" so that no one would really know which celeb or trusted person was confessing to a significant screwup. Maybe, however, the concept of "outing" would receive a new definition through Celebrity SF and M, because part of the show might be taken up by people calling in trying to identify the celebrity who has screwed up. All American would be enthralled.
The point of this would be to show that we all not only share the common human condition of making significant mistakes but that some peole can rise to the top despite (or maybe because of?) their screwups. Wouldn't you tune in?
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long